Insane madness come out like life is a terrific party


When people talk about the explosion of art in New York in the 1970s and ’80s, they usually mean the Ramones and Television and punk rock, or Jean-Michel Basquiat and the downtown arts scene. But a lively literary movement was taking place, though it has received considerably less attention. Around the time Patti Smith was recording her debut album, “Horses,” the cultural provocateur Kathy Acker was mailing acquaintances mimeographed stories that juxtaposed violence and vulnerability under the name “the Black Tarantula.” The writer and performer Constance DeJong was creating multimedia works with Philip Glass. At the Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church, the monologuist Eric Bogosian was giving his first solo performance. Taken together, according to Brandon Stosuy, the editor of “Up Is Up, But So Is Down: New York’s Downtown Literary Scene, 1974-1992,” this activity represents the birth of an underground literary movement that was just as vibrant as the musical revolution taking place. “Though much of it is out of print and difficult to locate, Downtown writing has never been more relevant,” Stosuy claims.

more from the NY Times Book Review here.